Michael Willson’s wonderful photograph of Nathan Buckley with his son Jett after they won their way into the 2018 Grand Final. They’d be beaten by the West Coast Eagles in the very final moments. A heartbreaking loss.


by | Sep 1, 2020

This video hit home for a couple of reasons.

I worked in the AFL for 30 years, 25 as a CEO.

I never won a Premiership.

Yes, there are moments of ’emptiness’, but they quickly pass. The pang of jealousy in the moments following the Grand Final as you watch the pure joy of those who have played or worked to achieve this outcome, soon replaced by admiration.

I know how hard they are to win.

But I never feel empty; it is the opposite.

I feel a deep sense of appreciation that I got to work in the game I loved, in wonderful clubs with people I genuinely cared for. While there would undoubtedly be things I’d change, and I think of those often, I am confident I gave it as much as I could give, perhaps too much.

The game was a great teacher, for which I am also eternally grateful.

Nathan Buckley – Curiosity vs Certainty, Growers vs Arrivers

But what I also like about this video is how Nathan called it out. Do not underestimate the courage that goes with this.

Do you let it pass, or do you call it out?

By calling it out, you are opening yourself up, but there is no courage without vulnerability.

Leadership is the standard you are prepared to walk past.

For Nathan Buckley, there was no walking past.

I suspect this is one of the reasons he will never feel empty.

He is giving his best. What more can you ask of yourself?

I always enjoy the opportunity to talk all things culture and high-performance, and the development of leaders to achieve it.

Here are a few of ways to start the ball rolling:

  • I like to share the ‘bruises’ of my lived leadership experiences as a 25 year CEO in the AFL with leaders as part of our Learning Leadership event for senior leaders. We have run this event for the past few years, and the feedback has been excellent. We have now transitioned the event online. There is no cost as we recognise that time allocated to learning is perhaps our most precious resource, and therefore we have also provided a number of dates from which to choose, please use this link.
  • Sign up for the “More to the Game” weekly email, and receive a copy of my “What business can learn from football” White Paper. The emails are short leadership reflections, no more than a couple of minutes to read and we will always treat our communication with respect. Please use this link.
  • Download my book “More to the Game”. In this publication, I have combined my writings and drawings with the beautiful imagery of Michael Willson, the premier AFL photographer. It is free to download (no sign-ups) at “More to the Game – What leaders can learn from football” 

You can also contact me at cameron@designCEO.com.au and let me know how you think we can work together.

Cameron Schwab
CEO & Founder


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